“The Going Out” Series and the Mayo Drawings November 2004

When the paint goes down it pulls at the body. Painting at its most expansive has always been centered in the body. The physical tactile substance of paint silences us. It is the same tangible, pleasurable silence we find in our response to nature. It creates room for the imagination to travel and for the mind to turn fluid and to wander.

At the heart of this encounter between the body centered nature of paint and vast space that permeates the silence it brings up, is a huge sense of possibility – that our creativity is limitless and our human potential is fluid and open to ongoing exploration. That we are still forming ourselves, finding ourselves, perhaps only touching the edge of ourselves.

In Ireland the weather moves fast and so does consciousness. This is the landscape I know and it rules my imagination. In the fluidity there is a tension between the ground and the sky – between the tangible and the intangible. It is here off the coast of Co. Mayo that I see the passage of the dead from war. It is here that I hold a prayer for my old Arab heart. It is here that I see my own death as simple and easy. These paintings – these moments of breath – are an opening of the heart, a return and dissolution.

When a painting goes well, it is easy; it has a life of its own. Its quality and its conviction come from its naturalness. It appears effortless because it is. The work, the struggle, is getting to that place of effortlessness with enough knowledge and experience so that it will cohere into the language of painting. The other challenge is not messing with that effortlessness: letting it be; not letting the conscious mind mess with the wonderful lightness of those moments.

October 1998
Katy Maguire was perfect except for the back legs which scraped the ground going down hill. It was a kind of loss of faith. She feared that her legs would give out. She refused to trust the rhythmic movements passed down in her genes. Fear and stubbornness ruled. It was a fear fed by a rampant imagination. A swooping bird, a rustle of leaves, a passing shadow, everything reduced her to a trembling nervous excitement. “Shy” was the word we used: she would ”shy” from anything that moved. I grew up with her and I grew up like her.

After she died I started to imagine her journey through horse history. This was the starting point. Katy provoked the memories and the connections to make these drawings. However, once started her presence is submerged in the process: a backdrop to the making and unmaking of the images.

Now the ideas come and go quickly, carrying the same weight as a twitch or a scratch. Thought becomes physical movement, like an athlete. It is this submersion in the process of making that I trust: where I am most myself; most free. It is a place where the conscious mind is made fluid and where, as John Keats said, we “trust in the integrity of the senses and the truth of the imagination.” Here, fully charged, and grounded in the physical materials of drawing, I thrash around looking for that moment when an unexpected clarity shows itself and the hair on the back of my neck starts to rise. It is a moment when evidence of Katy comes back at me out of the drawing transformed from memory, into the unforeseen marks, into “Hero Horse, ”into “ Traveler.”